A discussion with Steven Taylor about the new “Marion Barber Rule,” a new point of emphasis against offensive players stiff-arming to the head, prompted me to note how many rules are (informally) named after Dallas Cowboys.
A quick Web search found the following (Cowboys in bold):
- * Bert Emanuel rule — the ball can touch the ground during a completed pass as long as the receiver maintains control of the ball. Enacted due to a play in the 1999 NFC championship game, where Emanuel, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a catch ruled incomplete since the ball touched the ground.
* Bill Belichick rule — two defensive players, one primary and one backup, will have a radio device in their helmets allowing the head coach to communicate with them through the radio headset, identical to the radio device inside the helmet of the quarterback. This proposal was defeated in previous years, but was finally enacted in 2008 as a result of Spygate. This rule is the first, and thus far only rule named after a head coach.
* Bronko Nagurski rule — forward passing made legal from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Enacted in 1933. Prior to this rule, a player had to be five yards behind the line of scrimmage to throw a forward pass.
* Chad Johnson rule — players may no longer use a prop or do any act while on the ground during a touchdown celebration. Enacted in 2006. (While Johnson was the foremost offender, the rule also might be considered the Joe Horn rule, after an infamous post-touchdown incident involving Horn and a cellular phone after he scored for the Saints against the New York Giants. 
* Deacon Jones rule — no head-slapping. Enacted in 1977.
* Deion Sanders rule– Player salary rule which correlates a contract’s signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Deion Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)
* Deion Sanders rule II — Player salary rule which correlates a contract’s signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Deion Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)
* Emmitt Smith rule — A player cannot remove his helmet while on the field of play, except in the case of obvious medical difficulty. A violation is treated as unsportsmanlike conduct. Enacted in 1997.
* Erik Williams rule — no hands to the facemask by offensive linemen.
* Fran Tarkenton rule — a line judge was added as the sixth official to ensure that a back was indeed behind the line of scrimmage before throwing a forward pass. Enacted in 1965.
* Greg Pruitt rule — tear-away jerseys are now illegal. Pruitt purposely wore flimsy jerseys that ripped apart in the hands of would-be tacklers. Such a jersey was most infamously seen in a game between the Rams and Oilers where Earl Campbell’s jersey ripped apart after several missed tackles.
* Ken Stabler rule — on fourth down at any time in the game, or any down in the final two minutes of play, if a player fumbles, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. If that player’s teammate recovers the ball, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble. A defensive player can recover and advance at any time of play. Enacted in 1979 in response to the 1978 “Holy Roller” play.
* Lester Hayes rule– no Stickum allowed. Enacted in 1981.
* Lou Groza rule — no artificial medium to assist in the execution of a kick. Enacted in 1956.
* Mel Blount rule — Officially known as illegal use of hands, defensive backs can only make contact with receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Enacted in current form in 1978.
* Mel Renfro rule — allows a second player on the offense to catch a tipped ball, without a defender subsequently touching it. Enacted in 1978.
* Michael Irvin rule — no taunting. Another rule, resulting in offensive pass interference, prohibiting WRs to push off CBs, is also often called “the Michael Irvin rule.”
* Neil Smith rule — prevents a defensive lineman from flinching to induce a false start penalty on the offense. Enacted in 1998.
* Phil Dawson rule — certain field goals can be reviewed by instant replay, including kicks that bounce off the uprights. Under the previous system, no field goals could be replayed. Enacted in 2008 as a result of an unusual field goal that was initially ruled “no good” but was reversed upon discussion.
* Ricky (Williams) rule — rule declared that hair could not be used to block part of the uniform from a tackler and, therefore, an opposing player could be tackled by his hair (aka “The Ricky Rule” due to Williams’ long dread-locks). Enacted in 2003.
* Roy Williams rule — no horse-collar tackles. Enacted in 2005 when Williams broke Terrell Owens’s ankle and Musa Smith’s leg on horse-collar tackles during the previous season.
* Shawne Merriman rule — Bans any player from playing in the Pro Bowl if they test positive for using a performance-enhancing drug during that season. Enacted in 2007 after Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman played at the 2007 Pro Bowl after testing positive and serving a four-game suspension during the preceding season.
* Terrell Owens rule — no “foreign objects” on a player’s uniform (enacted in response to the 2002 “Sharpie incident”), though existing rules already forbade this.
* Tom Dempsey rule — any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe.
* Tony Romo rule — teams will now be given 45 minutes – 25 extra minutes than in years past – to prepare the balls for the game; and 12 sequentially numbered “K” balls will be used in the game, monitored by an official, instead of the ball boys. Enacted in 2007.
* Ty Law rule (also known as the Rodney Harrison rule — placed more emphasis on the Mel Blount rule after the New England Patriots utilized an aggressive coverage scheme, involving excessive jamming of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, in the 2003 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Sources: “National Football League lore – Rules named after players,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “National Football League – Rules named after players,” Spiritus-Temporis, “Penalties Named after NFL Players,” The Football Palace Forums
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